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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Finding McGuffey on Our Homeschool Journey—guest post

Today's post is written by a guest and "McGuffey veteran": 

In 2006 when my daughter Natalie was finishing up her Traditional Textbook kindergarten curriculum I began to look for other cheaper options for homeschooling. That year we combined a textbook phonics, language arts and math with the Five in  a Row book I found second hand. I just LOVED the literary education Natalie was getting. We had a blast reading great books, looking places up on our map, and doing crafts things to go along with it. Basically that year we did the workbooks, memorized some scripture and read! I look back fondly on that school year. The following year I looked into other high end curricula that followed the same literary bent. Since I couldn't afford that curriculum I began researching cheaper options. That's when I came across McGuffey's while researching Charlotte Mason. 

I loved the simple appeal of the books. Cute, moral stories with sweet pictures that weren't offensive to the intellect nor unappealing to the eye. That year we read them for fun! We ditched the textbook readers and just did McGuffey's with another workbook for phonics. I had discovered copy work by then so we alternated between a sentence or so of a McGuffey's lesson and the bible memory verses we were using. I did not know much about copy work at the time so I would pick a selection and write it out on paper making a space between lines for Natalie to copy underneath. I didn't pick out grammar or spelling nor did I do dictation. I just selected wonderful quotes, wrote them out and she copied.

A few years later when Natalie was in 2nd grade my son Logan began to use McGuffey much in the same way. We read them aloud, we read them silently, we read them for fun. We just enjoyed McGuffey! My son especially enjoyed the stories and often read them for fun.

This last school year a friend sent me a copy of Beechicks Parents Guide to the readers. I had read Beechick before and LOVED her ideas. Not being a teacher myself I had a hard time implementing them but for some reason this year it all clicked! So I began using McGuffey's again with my second son Benjamin. I'm still using other phonics and language arts programs at the moment but the more I get into McGuffey's with the help of Beechick, the more I understand how the Eclectic series really can replace your phonics, spelling, grammar and writing programs.

Usually what I do is sit down with my "student" and listen to them read or narrate what they have read. Natalie, age 9,  would be narrating at this point from the second reader. Logan (8) and Benjamin (5 and an early reader) reading aloud from the first and primer readers. As I sit down and before they begin reading I quickly glance at my Parent guide and discuss anything she mentions or that I see needs mentioning. Things like phonics rules, vocabulary or new punctuation. I write those things on the white board and we make a word list (either for new phonics rules or for vocabulary) to write in our notebooks later. I listen to the lesson or narration and then we discuss the moral or idea in the lesson. Then I will assign the white board work to be copied in their notebooks and will assign another task to go deeper for them.

For example lesson XI in the first reader is about boys flying a kite. Beechick suggests the word "rude" for vocabulary. I might point out the word rude and write it on the white board as we are reading. The end of the lesson McGuffey's draws your attention to "bad words" and how God doesn't want us to use "bad words". Then I might talk a little bit about words that aren't acceptable to use and why (also a Beechick suggestion). Then I might find a scripture that goes nicely (Romans 5:8 or one about the tongue) and we might write that on the board for copying. The assignment for the day would be looking up the word "rude" in the dictionary and copying the definition, then copying the Bible verse we found. Sometimes I will have Logan narrate to me his lesson and I would write it down for him. Then tomorrow we might orally test the vocabulary word, dictate the memory verse and then have Logan copy his own narration in his notebook. And maybe on the third day we might correct the dictation and rewrite it if need be. This way we only do one or two lessons a week leaving more time for leisure reading for fun, except Ben who needs daily instruction in reading as he is just in the decoding stage. Natalie's instruction might include some more intense writing and revision. Ben's might just include phonics and some copy work. Occasionally Beechick suggests some further study in a topic and I will include by utilizing the Internet.

McGuffey's readers are such a great resource. I cant imagine why they took them out of the schools. Except maybe that they take a wee bit more time to use then say a ready to go workbook. We like them and find them a very useful and frugal addition to our school.

About the author:

Vicki is Mother of 6, Wifey to 1, Daughter of the King, keeper of the Home, and all around frugalista! (not in that order). You really should pop over to her blog, 
Joy Homeliving, and read more!


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